8 Organic Ways To Keep Your Garden Bug-Free (No. 4 Kills Them Quick — But Is Safe For Humans!)

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Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

If you’re determined to grow a healthy garden without benefit of pesticides, you’re definitely on the right track. Conventional pesticides kill both good and bad bugs, leaving no natural controls that keep pests in check. As a result, pests are replaced with even tougher, chemical-resistant super-pests, with no beneficial insects left behind to maintain control.

Try not to panic if your plants are bothered by an occasional nibble, as “sharing” the garden is part of growing organically. Keep your plants properly watered. Ensure the soil is healthy and rich in organic materials. Keep in mind that healthy plants are always more pest-resistant than plants that are stressed.

If you find that your garden is overrun with pests in spite of good gardening practices, then consider natural alternatives such as these.

1. Beneficial insects. Such as lacewings, ladybugs, ground beetles, pirate bugs, parasitic wasps, praying mantis and hover-flies. Beneficial insects have preferred targets, so a healthy diversity of helpful bugs will help control a variety of pests, such as aphids, thrips, scale, mites and whiteflies.

2. Beneficial plants. Many blooming plants attract beneficial insects. For example, try alyssum, cosmos, Shasta daisy, yarrow, calendula and coreopsis, as well as herbs like dill, fennel, lemon balm, parsley and coriander. On the other hand, some plants, most notably marigolds, may help deter harmful pests.

3. Handpicking. Although it isn’t anybody’s favorite job, picking pests by hand is a highly effective natural pest control technique made easier with a good pair of gardening gloves. Most pickable insects, including caterpillars, slugs and tomato hornworms, are most active at dusk.

4. Diatomaceous earth. This powdery substance is made of the skeletal remains of tiny marine creatures known as diatoms. The abrasive dust abrades the outer covering of soft-bodied pests like potato beetles, squash bugs, slugs, snails, aphids, whiteflies and others, causing the pest to dry out and die. Although diatomaceous earth is safe, wear a dust mask because the dust can irritate your lungs.

Diatomaceous Earth: The All-Natural Insect Killer!

5. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) – A naturally occurring bacteria, Bt is non-toxic to humans, pets, birds and wildlife. However, when it is eaten by pests, the toxin dissolves in the gut and causes death in three to five days. Bt, available as spray or dust, is best applied in late afternoon and must be reapplied after rainfall or irrigation. The substance also can be mixed with insecticidal soap (see below), which improves coverage.

8 Organic Ways To Keep Your Garden Bug-Free (No. 4 Kills Them Quick -- But Is Safe For Humans!)

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6. Insecticidal soap – A spray made of natural soap (not dish soap or hand soap), insecticidal soap spray isn’t toxic to people or animals, but deadly to soft-bodied pests like aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies and spider mites. It is relatively safe, but because it kills on contact, it shouldn’t be applied when beneficial insects are present on the plant. Insecticidal soap spray works fast and is safe to use on vegetables up to harvest time. Don’t spray in the heat of the day or when the sun is directly on the plant.

7. Homemade sprays – The jury is out on homemade pest control sprays; some gardeners swear by them, while others claim they are a waste of time. If you’re inundated with pests, it won’t hurt to give them a try, and they might just work.

  • Garlic spray – Blend 10-12 garlic cloves in a quart of water, and then let the smelly mixture sit for at least a full day. Strain the solution through cheesecloth and add a cup of vegetable oil. For even more punch, add a tablespoon of cayenne pepper or chili powder, then let the mixture sit for another 24 hours. The spray, which is highly concentrated, should be mixed at a rate of ½ cup to 1 gallon of water.
  • Insecticidal soap spray – Mix 1 ½ tablespoon of natural soap (such as castile or oil soap) with a quart of water and a few drops of cooking oil, which helps the spray stick to foliage. You also can add a teaspoon of garlic or a garlic bulb, and/or a small amount of cayenne pepper. Some gardeners like to add one or two drops of citrus essential oil.
  • Red pepper spray – This simple spray consists of a tablespoon of chili powder or cayenne pepper and six drops of natural soap in a gallon of water. Mix well and apply weekly, or as needed.

8. Horticultural oil – A type of highly refined oil, horticultural oil plugs the pores so that insects can’t breathe. They soon suffocate. Although the oil dissipates quickly and little residue is left behind, horticultural oil shouldn’t be applied on very hot or cold days, or on drought-stressed plants. Horticultural oil is effective against a variety of pests, including spider mites, aphids, leaf hoppers and whiteflies, among others.

What all-natural pest-control recipes would you add? Share your gardening tips in the section below:

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New Report Reveals The 12 Fruits & Vegetables You Should NEVER Buy Because Of Pesticides — And There Are Some Surprises

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New Report Reveals The 12 Fruits & Vegetables You Should NEVER Buy Because Of Pesticides -- And There Are Some Surprises

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Nearly three out of four of the fruits and vegetables sold at America’s supermarkets contain pesticide residues, according to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data cited in a new Environmental Working Group report that also listed the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

All total, the USDA data detected 146 different pesticides on produce sold in the United States.

Disturbingly, some of the healthiest foods, including leafy greens like kale, and strawberries, contained the highest levels of pesticides, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered in its Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Highlights from the guide include:

  • Pesticide was detected on 98 percent of the strawberries, peaches, nectarines and peaches tested.
  • Samples taken from a sweet bell pepper and a grape contained 15 different pesticides.
  • A strawberry sample contained 17 different pesticides.

Perhaps most frightening of all was the list of foods mothers throughout America put in their children’s lunchboxes because they think they are healthy.

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Here is the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the most contaminated produce:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Hot peppers and greens such as kale and collard greens, almost made the top 12.

To give moms peace of mind, the EWG also published a Clean 15 list of the most pesticide-free produce:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen sweat peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papaya
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

It looks as if the only way to keep your food pesticide-free is to grow a garden.

What are your thoughts on these lists? What produce do you purchase and also avoid at the store? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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